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Report: Mets interview Dave Littlefield to fill GM vacancy

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Marc Carig of The Athletic reports that the Mets have interviewed Dave Littlefield to fill the club’s GM vacancy. The position hasn’t exactly been a popular one for potential candidates, with many preemptively taking their name out of consideration.

Littlefield, 58, was the Pirates’ GM between 2001-07. It didn’t exactly go well. The club never won more than 75 games during his tenure. Littlefield was also infamous for the 2003 Rule 5 draft in which he carelessly left several valuable players unprotected, including Chris Shelton and José Bautista. Littlefield was also criticized for trades he made (e.g. Aramis Ramírez) and for trades he didn’t make (e.g. Kris Benson for Ryan Howard).

In the time since, Littlefield worked as a scout for the Cubs, then for the Tigers. Since 2015, he has worked as the vice president of player development for the Tigers. Littlefield’s successor, Neal Huntington, went on to have more success which didn’t help Littlefield’s cause any. Huntington was also comparatively much more open to analytics.

The Mets’ interest in Littlefield isn’t surprising. There are plenty of up-and-coming GM candidates — like Ben Cherington — the Mets could target, but Fred Wilpon (pictured above) doesn’t want that. He wants someone malleable who will adhere to payroll constrictions. Mets ownership’s involvement is an issue for the younger, analytics-oriented executives, Matt Ehalt of The Record reported earlier this month. Ehalt wrote, “There are rumblings that several candidates with progressive, analytics-oriented approaches do not believe they will be able to operate as they please should they take the Mets job, according to a source. That hesitation played a factor in why former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington bowed out of the mix, per the source.”

You have to feel bad for Mets fans, who seem relegated to having to root for a middling ballclub once again. And you have to feel bad for the likes of Brandon Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, who will once again have to perform for a team that doesn’t have competing as its chief priority.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.